Thoughts on a year of change

Council President Kitty Dombroski and her makeshift vote collector

This past year required lots of change! Here, for example, you can see how Council President Kitty Dombroski rigged up a basket on a pole to collect drive-by votes from a pandemic-safe distance. (Photo by Cheryl Denneny)

I am writing this on Ash Wednesday, 2021. By the time you read this it will be later, but while writing I am reminded of this past year.

Last year, Ash Wednesday was February 26. Our first Lenten Wednesday service (remember those?) was March 4. We gathered for soup and salad. I brought a salad. Jan brought olive bread. Vicki made ham and bean soup. Ann and Kevin made chili. I think I got that right. I used the cheddar cheese from the salad and put it in my chili. There was more and it was really good. Food, people — fellowship. We were talking about the Transition and when were we going to get our new Pastor.

It was the last “normal” in-person event at St Mark’s. Quickly, all the energy in the world was around COVID-19. Or at least it felt that way. Cancelled Wednesday services, cancelled Sunday services, cancelled in-person meetings. WHAT ABOUT EASTER?

Along with the rest of the world we were scrambling and mourning. How do we worship? How do we have Bible Study? How do we have meetings? How do we have all those things that make us St Mark’s?

Enter ZOOM. For most, this was a new concept. Virtual meetings were not “normal,” but we quickly learned. And along the way we learned that the MUTE button is really important.

We purchased equipment for pre-recorded services. John has gotten really good at them.

We were hurled into the technology of the 21st Century. Not without some kicking and screaming and, yes, whining. Or maybe that was just me? Masks, hand sanitizer, CDC recommendations. Oy vey.

And like the faithful Christians before us — we carried on. Is it easy? NO. Is it comfortable? NO. The safety and comfort of our world has been shaken to the core. The world outside our doors and the world within our doors is not the same.  We are grieving for the life we had and the people we have lost. We may never be exactly the way we were.

But I have hope. There are lots of good things happening in 2021. The days are starting to get longer. There is a vaccine. Our Call Committee continues to meet and is moving rapidly to the interview phase. We have a lot to look forward to.

The most important part is to keep praying — for the world, for our country, for the Church, for St Mark’s, for our interim Pastor and our new Pastor and, also, not unimportant, for us.

Kitty Dombroski

President, St. Mark’s Leadership Council

Annual meeting postponed to Sunday February 7

Council President Kitty Dombroski

Because of the anticipated snowstorm, the annual meeting of the St. Mark’s congregation has been postponed to Sunday, February 7, immediately following the 10 a.m. worship service in the sanctuary and live on our YouTube channel.

If you plan to attend in person you must call the office — (302) 764-7488 — to reserve your spot, even if you typically worship in-person. Because of COVID-19 safety recommendations, we are limiting the number of people who may attend in-person.

By now you should have received your Annual Meeting Packet in the mail. I have added the instructions for attending and voting here:

The Annual Congregational Meeting will be held Sunday, February 7,  immediately following the 10 a.m. service. You may participate in the meeting in person in the Sanctuary or electronically (YouTube). There is a paper ballot to vote on a new Council member and approval of the 2021 Budget. We will also have copies on site. All ballots must be delivered onsite by the voter. You must vote in person. That means if you are participating electronically, you must come to St. Mark’s to submit your ballot. Ballots will be collected in the parking lot immediately after the meeting until 1 p.m. on Sunday, February 7. You will not need to leave your car, but you must be present. No proxy or absentee ballots can be accepted.

I strongly encourage you to attend the annual meeting, either in person or via YouTube. St Mark’s Church is our church and we need everyone to participate for us to be successful in mission for Christ! The Council and budget must be approved by you.

I anticipate 2021 will be an exciting year for us and I am looking forward to getting started!

Kitty Dombroski, president, St. Mark’s Leadership Council

Keep holding on! A message from our Council President

Photo of Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes, taken by Liza Agsalud. Used under CC2.0

Hold on! That was the sage advice from cool rocker Brittany Howard that I shared back in March when the impact of the pandemic was just getting started. I never thought it would last this long. I’m still listening to the music, changing it up sometimes but the theme remains the same.

St Mark’s has accomplished a lot in the past nine months, despite the difficulties we’ve encountered.

  • I can’t say enough good things about our Worship and Music Team. With music led by John Lasher, they have provided a weekly service for us, seemingly without major effort — and I know it’s harder and more time consuming than it looks. Pre-recorded, onsite and online — they have switched it up as needed and done a tremendous job.
  • Our Interim Pastor David Mueller has gone above and beyond, providing pastoral care, calling  congregation members and talking to anyone that answers their phone. He has been chatting weekly on YouTube with local experts and friends. They are all online so if you missed any you can still watch them. He has led our Transition Team to sharing our St Mark’s Covenant Journey and asked the Council to form a Call Committee.
  • The Congregation met and approved the Call Committee members who have now started meeting. They recently sent out a survey to the congregation asking for feedback. The survey is a mandatory step in the Call Process so please get your response to the office ASAP. Yes, I know we’ve filled out multiple surveys over the past couple years.  It’s frustrating, but part of the Call Process and they can’t move forward without it. To steal a phrase from Nike — Just Do It. We want the Call Process to move forward smoothly.
  • Cheryl in the office has kept us moving along as if nothing has changed. She keeps me on task 😊.
  • We’ve started working on the Annual Meeting (scheduled for Sunday, January 31). The business of the Church is moving forward.
  • Many thanks to everyone who contributed to the Hilltop Thanksgiving Baskets and Children’s Christmas gifts. I am amazed at your continued generosity. We have an awesome congregation!
  • The pandemic is moving into what may be a scary phase of community spread. We’ve cancelled the Bazaar. That was a difficult decision. Many of St Mark’s members have worked hard all year on the Bazaar and the crafts are available. Please contact Ann Boeker-Wilson to schedule an appointment.

We may be moving back to pre-recorded online worship in the coming weeks. We’ll be communicating with you as quickly as possible.

Please stay safe and be good to each other and the world.

HOLD ON — we will get through this!

Kitty Dombroski

President, St. Mark’s Leadership Council

Photo of Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard by Liza Agsalud of Los Angeles, Calif. / CC BY 2.0

The votes are in! We have a Call Committee!

Leadership Council President Kitty Dombroski

We have a Call Committee! Praise God!

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Congregational Meeting on Sunday, Oct. 4. Using remote technology ensured that everyone had an opportunity to vote.

It was great to see all the members in person and also those who drove to St Mark’s and placed their paper ballot in the plastic bowl attached to the paint roller extension.  I am sure it was quite a sight and it definitely added some levity to the inconvenience of not being able to all meet in person!

We needed 36 for a quorum and had 81 ballots. The Committee was elected with 75 votes.

Our Call Committee will start meeting with the Delaware-Maryland Synod Representative this month.

Please continue to pray for St Mark’s, the Call Committee and our new Pastor.

The Holy Spirit is at work!

Kitty Dombroski
President, St. Mark’s Leadership Council

Council update: St. Mark’s ready to elect a Call Committee

Cross and stained glass window

Dear St. Mark’s Congregation,

What a long strange trip it has been. 2020 is not the year we thought it would be. In spite of significant obstacles and through the power of the Holy Spirit, St. Mark’s has continued to thrive and grow. Our Transition Team has created our Covenant Journey and has indicated that St. Mark’s is ready to start the call process for our new pastor.

Praise God!

St. Mark’s Council met with The Rev. Robin Litton from the Delaware-Maryland Synod to discuss how to move forward. We have been assured that there is a way. There has been movement of pastors within the Synod during the pandemic and it is vitally important that we move forward.

On September 13, Council approved a slate of eight candidates (see the full list below) to be on the Call Committee. This group of members must be elected by the Congregation to be on the Call Committee as per our Constitution (C13.04).

Council has scheduled a Special Congregational Meeting for Sunday, October 4, immediately following the 10 a.m. worship service, to elect the Call Committee members. You may participate in the meeting in person in the sanctuary or watch it electronically as an extended part of our live-stream coverage on YouTube.

St. Mark’s constitution also requires that election of Call Committee members must be done in person. No proxy or absentee ballots are permitted.

Ballots have been mailed to members and will also be available onsite. They will be collected in the parking lot until 1 p.m. on Oct. 4. If you participate in the congregational meeting remotely (via YouTube), you must still come in person to St. Mark’s by 1 p.m. to submit your ballot. You will not need to leave your car, but you must deliver your own ballot.

Thank you all for your prayers!

Kitty Dombroski

St. Mark’s Council President

Call Committee Nominees

These are the nominees for St. Mark’s Call Committee:

Amy Lane

A lifelong Lutheran, Amy and her husband, Kevin, live in Wilmington, Delaware. They have two adult children. Amy and Kevin have been members of St. Mark’s since moving to Delaware from Nashville, Tennessee, in 2001.

Amy’s professional background includes significantAmy Lane human resources and business experience. She was St. Mark’s first Director of Education & Outreach, then worked as the office manager and, eventually, as an HR specialist for the non-profit Delaware Association for the Education of Young Children. She then became a fiscal management analyst for the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services. She now is the administrative specialist and a member of the management team at the University of Delaware’s Center for Disabilities Studies.

“I’m honored to be considered for the St. Mark’s Search Committee and I look forward to participating in the process as God guides us to the spiritual leader that will be the best fit for our congregation.”

Cheryl Powell

Cheryl is a relatively new member of St. Mark’s, having arrived in early 2015 by way of Philadelphia. Cheryl Powell She is a physician’s assistant, currently employed at the Philadelphia Veterans Administration Medical Center. She is also a retired Navy yeoman.

An avid reader, she also enjoys sewing, cooking and singing, and is a member of the St. Mark’s choir, along with her brother, David McClure.

She has a grown son, Duncan, who is a graduate engineer, working in civil engineering at a firm in Missouri. His girlfriend, Corrine, is completing her veterinary degree. Cheryl and David reside in Claymont.

Elise Mitchell

Elise has lived in Wilmington since 2001 and became a member of St. Mark’s in 2003. Elise MitchellShe has been married to Tom for 17 years and they have two boys, Graham, 13, and Clayton, 11.

Elise has worked for Enterprise Car Sales for 16 years.

She is a member of St. Mark’s altar guild and enjoys crafting and restoring their home.

Francine Passerini

Francine has been been a member of St. Mark’s for 14 years. During that time, she has served as a Steven Minister and has been part of the Wednesday Bible study group, the craft group, Francine PasseriniCaring Hearts, co-chair of the Lutheran Community Services breakfast and (prior to COVID-19) was a tutor at Presbyterian Church of the Covenant’s after-school program called “Edge.” She has participated in many women’s and charitable activities.

Francine is a wife, mother of three and “Nonni” to 12 grandchildren. She is a native of Wilmington and a retired elementary and middle school teacher.

“I look forward to working with the Call Committee, the Church Council and the congregation with the guidance of the Holy Spirit to jointly select our next pastor.”

Jerry Schrack

Jerry has been a member of St. Mark’s since 2004. He is happily married to Cecilia and the Jerry Schrackproud father of Dana, Solomon and Holly.

Jerry has served St. Mark’s as a Sunday school teacher for the preschool and elementary age classes and most recently served as the “Zero Gravity” youth leader with Cecilia.

The Schracks live in North Wilmington. Jerry works at Swarthmore College as assistant Director of Horticulture and Grounds.

Michael K. Patterson

Mike has been a member of St. Mark’s since 2006. He is married to Faith, who serves on St. Mark’s Leadership Council, and has a son, a stepdaughter, two stepsons and six grandchildren. He Mike Patterson earned a B.S. degree from the University of Delaware in Operations Management Business and an MBA from Wilmington University.

He is a retired field grade Army officer with approximately 25 years of military service and a retired senior department head director of hospital in Pennsylvania, with more than 25 years of experience in facilities management.

Mike worked as a quality engineer with Thiokol Corporation, which manufactured rocket motors for satellites. He now teaches military science Army ROTC at the University of Delaware. His previous teaching experience included Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore and a public high school in Philadelphia.

Vicki McDowell

Vicki is an active member of St. Mark’s, teaching confirmation classes, serving as co-leader of the Wednesday Bible Study and participating in Sunday afternoon and Wednesday evening Vicki McDowellBible studies. She is also a member of the Delmarva Emmaus community, actively sponsoring and supporting church members on their “Walk to Emmaus” experience and an active member in their “Fourth Day” community of alumni.

She is a member of the Kairos Prison Ministry Program in Delaware and served on six teams with the Maryland Women’s Team at Jessup (MCI-W).

Currently retired, she served in the United States Air Force for 20 years, attaining the rank of master sergeant. She has also done a lot of farm work and has worked as a groom with show horses, as a ranch manager and as the caregiver for her mother, the late Roberta Dukes.

Wayne Smiley

Wayne has attended St. Mark’s since 2009 and says he enjoyed the worship experience so much that he attended a new member class and joined the church.Wayne Smiley

Wayne was elected to the St. Mark’s Leadership Council in 2011 and was elected president of the Council at the beginning of his second term. He served two years as president.

He has played guitar with the contemporary worship band “Souls on Fire” for the last three years.

Hold On: A message from our Council President

Photo of Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes, taken by Liza Agsalud. Used under CC2.0

I’ve been listening to music over the past few months while stuck in the house. I always feel better when I listen to songs I love and I tend to get them stuck in my head. YouTube is nice, it’s free and a bit of a time waster. Perfect.

I started with Bonnie Raitt singing “Angel from Montgomery,” but then John Prine died of COVID-19 and I was bummed. The world lost a beautiful writer. I don’t care how old he was.

The April “Lion” arrived and after reading Rev Mueller’s Musings I had Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young wailing “Ohio” for days. The distrust resonated with me.

Bob Marley and the Wailers’ “Exodus” came next. Not exactly Lutheran theology, but I like being one of Jah people — even if just for a few minutes.

And now — Alabama Shakes. “Hold On.” I can’t get it out of my head. If you haven’t heard it (and you like loud, rock, Janis Joplin-type music) find it on YouTube. It’s addictive. Brittany Howard mentions somebody up above a few times in the lyrics so God’s in there too. At least I believe he is. It’s my kind of prayer — especially when she wails “I don’t wanna wait.” It feels like a cry from one of the Psalms.

St Mark’s Council met on May 17. It was a long meeting — three hours. We had a lot to discuss. Fortunately, before I wrote this letter, the Governor sent guidelines for opening churches. And then we heard from the ELCA and then the Synod. We are getting a lot of advice. But, to be clear, no one is sure. We have a lot of information and common sense to sift through. Members of the congregation have had some great ideas too.

And now we have to buy stuff that may take awhile to get here. We need to be clean and safe. We are still working on a tentative date and we’ll get those specifics out when we have them. We have to be safe. But I want you to know we are working on a plan.

Council formed a Building Safety Committee to come up with suggestions for opening the building for a service. The Worship and Music Committee is working on how to have a safe service. We may not know exactly when we will be together but we will do our best to be safe. Council will meet again on May 31 via Zoom for more discussion.

A few other things:

  • We applied and were approved for a PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) loan. The money has been deposited in our account.
  • The Great Room is finished – waiting for us to return.
  • We have changed the locks on the outside doors. Inside door locks remain the same. We are going to be careful about distributing keys. There were way too many keys out there and this was a good time to get that under control. Let me know if you need to get in the church and I will arrange for you to get in. Council will decide on May 31 how many and who to give keys to. The church building remains closed at least through May 31.

Hold On.

Jesus is Coming Soon (it’s on YouTube, too).

 

Kitty Dombroski

President, St. Mark’s Leadership Council

Photo of Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard by Liza Agsalud of Los Angeles, Calif. / CC BY 2.0

For such a time as this: A message from Kitty Dombroski

A laptop with a virtual meeting

“For such a time as this.”

Six words from the book of Esther I can’t get out of my head. As a country, as a church, as a congregation we have never seen anything like the time we are living. My emotions have been all over the place. Concern, worry, irritation and fear are just some of those. And yet, in the middle of all of it — always when least expected — a lot of good. For such a time as this. Our congregation amazes me as we continue to be there for each other.

St Mark’s Council met on Sunday April 19 — not the way we always have, in a room, facing each other — but in a new way, on the phone and on our computers. For such a time as this. I am grateful for technology. Technology has brought us connectivity and using it is keeping us together. Without skipping a beat our worship services continue — not the way we always have in the sanctuary, with each other, but in a new way – on the phone and on our computers.  For some, in the mail. For such a time as this. I am grateful for our Interim Pastor Council President Kitty Dombroskiand staff. I am grateful for our members and the use of the gifts we have been given. The gift of technology and knowledge and persistence and a willingness and desire to continue.

While most of us have been waiting and praying at home, for some in our church this has been a very busy time. Our Worship committee, Communication Team and Staff have worked many hours putting together worship services that seem almost effortless. For such a time as this.

Good News.

During this quiet time in our Church life members of our congregation have been busy painting the Great Room — floor to ceiling. The floors have been cleaned and waxed. A lot of hard work went in to that. I am grateful.

Over the past weeks, while we’ve been social distancing at home, our Mission Endowment Fund approved and funded purchasing equipment to record our weekly and Holy Week Services. Worship services were recorded, blended and edited. A lot of hard work. I am grateful.

Our website and specifically, the Worship service viewership has increased weekly. March 15, our first Sunday online, was visited 133 times. Easter Sunday, we had 437 visits. A lot of hard work. I am grateful.

Our Council and Transition Team continue to meet. Our staff continues to work. Our members are doing everything they can. Leadership is making difficult decisions. I encourage you to continue to reach out to one another. The church is the people – not the building. But you know that already. Speaking of the building – back to the practical. I strongly encourage you to continue giving financially to St Mark’s. Our bills still need to be paid. Giving is down.

St Mark’s is still here. Call the office or Pastor. Continue to pray. We will be together soon. For such a time as this.

Kitty Dombroski

President, Leadership Council